If you’re visiting the Menabe region of Madagascar, it’s certainly worth visiting the Kirindy Reserve- a dry deciduous forest that is home to a number of endemic reptiles and various species of lemur.
There are various organised tours to visit the reserve; I took a jeep tour from the Palissandre Hotel, stopping at the Avenue of the Baobabs for sunset on the way back. It was quite a long drive to get to the reserve and I have to say, by the time I got there I was feeling quite car sick as the road is bumpy!
When you arrive at the Reserve there’s a lodge with a restaurant and the owners took down our lunch orders before we went off into the forest with our guide. This isn’t a hike- more of a leisurely walk along very flat, dry ground- although you do need closed shoes as there are lots of branches to get caught on. Make sure you take plenty of water as it can be quite hot here in the middle of the day.
Only a few minutes into our walk we saw two lemurs with a baby very high up in a tree and you could only really get a photo with a long lens. As we got further into the woods though I heard a bit of a rustling low down and suddenly we saw a group of sifaka ‘dancing lemurs’ with white bodies and black faces. These lemurs were rather shy- they stuck around just long enough for me to get a few photos, before jumping to the next tree. We followed them through the trees for a while as they ‘danced’ through the forest before they eventually disappeared out of sight. They do look very funny when they dance- they hop sideways and forwards, completely upright on their back legs like little people.
Next we were looking for the brown lemurs- for a while I didn’t think we would spot them but then we spotted some little ones on the forest floor. These types of lemurs are really adorable with beady eyes and incredibly fluffy coats. Unlike the shy, sifaka lemurs, the brown lemurs are very curious about humans and came right up to us to see what was up. I sat down chatting with them for a while and got some great pictures of a baby clinging onto its mother.
The only thing we hadn’t seen in the forest was the fossa- Madagascar’s largest carnivore and a predator to the lemurs. But just as we walked back to the lodge I spotted the tail of something that looked like a cross between a cat and a dog. The fossa quickly ran underneath one of the wooden buildings and one of the workers tried to coax it out. I didn’t manage to get a great shot but you can just about make it out in the photo.
Afterwards we tucked into a lunch, which consisted of a fresh salad followed by chicken with vegetables and rice. The only thing that let the trip down was that we had to wait around for several hours in the heat of the day, waiting for the temperatures to cool down before we made our way to the Avenue of the Baobabs for sunset. With no Internet and nothing to do it was really quite boring! Luckily a worker at the lodge gave me a key to one of the rooms so I could take a cold shower and lay down. Many tourists come here to stay overnight at the bungalows at the lodge or camp in the area, so if you’re really into wildlife watching then you might wish to stop over.
Air France flies to Antananarivo in Madagascar from 14 UK Airports, via Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport. Return fares start from £818, including taxes and fees. For further information and to book, visit www.airfrance.co.uk.